clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

49ers roster breakdowns, 90-in-90: Ahmad Brooks

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). We move on to outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks.

Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but you get the idea.

San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks started his career with the Cincinnati Bengals and quickly gained a reputation as a player who was wasting his potential. Brooks didn't attack the game with the ferocity one needs to succeed in the NFL, and he was looking like a bust before he joined the 49ers.

When the 49ers did finally get him into the starting rotation, Brooks proved to the team that he was a strong edge rusher, excellent run stuffer and a competent player dropping back into coverage. He earned a Pro Bowl berth in 2013 and was a second-team All-Pro twice, in 2012 and 2013. He led the postseason in sacks in 2013 and ultimately has been a great value pickup for the 49ers over the years.

But Brooks has arguably done more harm than good in recent seasons. A constant offsides/encroachment-prone player, Brooks had a history of having a bad attitude and because he was one of the only competent pass rushers on the team, he got away with it. He got benched for whining and complaining and generally being a tool, then got his job back when he whined, complained and was generally a big tool about being benched.

There are also off-the-field concerns. There have been allegations thrown his way and I have no idea if they're true, but they're the kind of thing you absolutely hope are untrue. I don't know if we'll ever know about that stuff for certain but it's just another question mark.

On the field, Brooks has slowed down a little bit but he hasn't suffered that much in the pass-rushing column He had 6.5 sacks last season, half a sack more than 2014 and two sacks fewer than his career best from 2013. He played in 14 games last season and also had a fumble recovery and 42 tackles. I thought Brooks looked a little sluggish overall, but anybody suggesting he offers nothing as a pass rusher anymore is fooling themselves.

But Brooks' future on the team is still a question mark. I don't know how the 49ers coaching staff feels about him, but he's the only proven all-around outside linebacker on the roster, even moreso than Aaron Lynch. I think Lynch can be a star in the NFL, but for now, Brooks holds the edge in coverage over him. Eli Harold and Tank Carradine could combine to make Brooks expendable in the end, but for now I'm not certain he's going anywhere.

Why he might improve

Nobody knows how Brooks will look in Jim O'Neil's defense. Nobody really knows what that defense will look like in general, but if the 49ers actually struck correctly by drafting DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead over the past two years, exceptionally improved defensive line play could be a factor. Many argued that Justin Smith made Aldon Smith look good and while that was true to an extent, Brooks hasn't always had that help. If the 49ers have an elite defensive line, Brooks could definitely improve on his numbers. He could also do so if he managed to stay healthy.

Why be might regress

Brooks is 32 years old and is playing in his 11th season in the league. He's had an injury history in the past and has missed five games over the past two seasons. He's learning yet another defensive scheme and the line in front of him will essentially have two rookies on it. If Lynch isn't the disruptive threat the 49ers want him to be, then Brooks will get more attention. Plus, there's also the chance that the 49ers don't even give him much playing time because they like Harold or somebody else more.

Odds of making the roster

This is a tricky one overall. If the 49ers like what they see from Harold or Carradine in training camp and the preseason, I could see Brooks getting the boot if the coaching staff feels the locker room would be stronger without him. But at this stage, I'm going to put Brooks' odds of being on the Day 1 roster around 85 percent.